6 Other Religions Christians Secretly Believe
Many Christians find it hard — or at least unnatural — to think like a Christian all the time, and most don't really know what it means. Christians often see the world, humanity, and even God in ways that are fundamentally incompatible with Christian doctrine, and most of the time, they don't even know it. In effect, they are following other religions.
"Contemporary Western society is awash in competing visions of ultimate reality. Christians who do not know any better often absorb beliefs about reality from worldviews completely alien to the Bible and in radical conflict with it," warns Roger E. Olson in his new book The Essentials of Christian Thought: Seeing Reality Through the Biblical Story. Olson's book explains what a Christian should believe about God, the world, and humanity, based on the Bible — and why at least six different popular worldviews are in conflict with the essentials of biblical Christianity.
Olson's book explains that the God of the Bible is supernatural and personal, but not human. God is supernatural not in some occult sense, but simply "beyond nature," and He is personal in the sense that He has "intelligence, thought, intentions, actions, and some degree of self-determination." Interestingly, these two main features set biblical Christianity apart from nearly all other ways of approaching ultimate reality.
Here are six other common ways of seeing the world that Olson warns a Christian cannot accept without cognitive dissonance.
1. Naturalism, the worldview of atheism.
Many Christians think and act as if the material world is all there is, and many atheists argue that science proves as much. But there is a difference between methodological naturalism (ruling out the supernatural in order to study science) and metaphysical naturalism (denying the existence of any reality beyond atoms and energy).
As Olson argues, "if nature is all there is, then there can be no moral absolutes and life has no meaning." Worse, if naturalism is true, "then all our ideas are products of forces in nature over which we have no real control (as all is ruled by natural laws). Our very thoughts are products of chemicals in the brain." In fact, naturalism implies that "our beliefs, whatever they are, are controlled by nature, which is a closed system of mathematically describable laws and material-energy forces and phenomena."
The very idea of truth, or even free will, becomes absurd. This means that even science becomes meaningless. Rather than a search for truth, it is a tactic for survival.
The denial of God is obviously incompatible with Christianity. Not only does the Bible begin and end with God, but it presents a God who created and sustained the universe, and who pursues a personal relationship with human beings. Nevertheless, many Christians operate their daily lives as if God did not exist.